Jerry Andersson admits Steelers simply did not have the team to thrive in the ultra-tough Erhardt Conference division - but thinks the clubs who won the other Conferences were inferior to Sheffield.
The Swede, who stepped down from being assistant coach at the club after finishing third in the League, said it was stressful for players to see results go against them, despite expectations.
Steelers came third in the four-team Conference behind Cardiff Devils and Belfast Giants. Devils amassed 32 points from 24 Erhardt games, while as Fife Flyers secured 40 points to win their Gardiner Conference.
Manchester Storm finished just ahead of Guildford Flames in their Patton Conference and were second in the overall Elite League table.
“Cardiff was outstanding and after them it’s us, Belfast, Nottingham” said Andersson. “The Conference system can beat you hard if there are high expectations and the team isn’t good team enough: then you are in a mentally bad situation.
“Manchester were pretty good, Fife too, but not on our level. I think we should be more open...and start working as a third or fourth rank team - it’s always better to be underdogs when you didn’t have the team.”
Players must possess must have had mental toughness: “I have to say, we show strength in the (Play Off) quarter final and semi final...finally.”
Andersson enjoyed working with all the players, but said dealing with the British contingent was the nost stimulating.
He singled out Davey Phillips as a player and a person who was “funny, generous with his energy and grew as a defencemen...wow!”
In his two years as a Steeler Andersson also liked working with imports such as Mathieu Roy, Guillaume Desbiens, Zack Fitzgerald and Colton Fretter.
Only Roy remains on the current Steeler roster, as coach Paul Thompson starts a massive Summer re-build, one that is already underway.